Angelo Codevilla describes here his plan to defeat ISIS by “by war in the dictionary meaning of the word. To make war is to kill the spirit as well as the body of the enemy, so terribly as to make sure that it will not rise again, and that nobody will want to imitate it.”
That requires first isolating the Islamic State politically and physically to deprive all within it of the capacity to make war, and even to eat. Then it requires killing all who bear arms and all who are near them.
Why It’s Now Our Business
The Islamic State is a lot more than a bunch of religious extremists. Its diverse composition as well as its friends and enemies in the region define its strength and its vulnerabilities. Its dependence on outside resources, its proximity to countries with the capacity and incentive to strike serious blows, and its desert location, make its destruction possible with little U.S. involvement on the ground, and providing the United States uses its economic and diplomatic power in a decisive manner.
Geopolitically, the creation of a Sunni Arab state in western Mesopotamia should not be any of America’s business. For a thousand years, Sunni Assyrian Arabs from the northwest have fought for exclusive control of that area, against countervailing pressure from Shia Persians from the southeast and their Arab co-religionists. All the while, Kurds held fast to their northern mountains. In recent centuries, the Ottoman Empire arbitrated that ancient contest. In 1801, Sunni Wahabis from the Saudi clan invaded present-day Iraq and inflicted horrors that surpass even today’s. In response, the Ottomans nearly wiped out the Saudis and tortured the Wahabi leaders in the main cities of the empire. It would have been better for America not to have taken sides in that region’s reshuffling, or to have done so decisively in a manner that commanded respect. Alas, U.S. administrations of both parties intervened fecklessly. We are reaping the results.
Now one of the parties to the struggle is making itself our business, and is doing so globally. We have to mind that business.